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About Joe

A heaping pile of tunes associated with the roots rock years come courtesy of Joe Thomas, not to be confused with other performers with this name such as the saxophonist who took over the Jimmie Lunceford band or the rapper and R&B maestro who prefers to be called just plain Joe. Often in a co-writing team with pianist Howard Biggs, Thomas came up with songs that struck a common chord with many of the finest early rock and blues performers. He was certainly not afraid of simplicity, often presenting his themes under titles as commonplace as day-to-day greetings: "I Don't Know," "Got You on My Mind," "I Feel Like Crying," "Wait."
Thomas had his hands on a set of oars as the Memphis rock & roll scene began rolling like a river. As part of a rhythm section with pianist Edward Lumpkin and drummer Willie Willis, Thomas played on a series of recordings from the first half of the '50s featuring the legendary Arthur "Big Boy" Crudup, music that many feel did more than just set the stage for rock & roll. The Crudup connection of course leads to Elvis Presley, the King chewing on enough Thomas tunes to form something of a large peanut butter and banana stain on the publishing record. Subsequently Thomas would also impact the doo wop scene; for example creating a flight plan for vocal group the Ravens that led to a contract with the Hub label. Previously mentioned partner Biggs was brought in as a combination pianist, arranger, and conductor on recording sessions by this group. It is difficult choosing a best song by Thomas, but the smart-aleck contingent will go with "Your Mouth's Got a Hole in It." ~ Eugene Chadbourne

Columbus, GA
5 Jul 1973

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